Study Guide

Orville Hitchcock Platt in Platt Amendment

By U.S. Congress

Orville Hitchcock Platt

Front and Presenter

The Platt Amendment was named after ol' Orville here, but not for the reasons you might suspect. Did he write it? Nope. Was he involved in Cuba during the Spanish-American War? Negative. What's his deal?

Orville Platt was the U.S. Senator who presented the legislation in a session of Congress. And that's all. Kind of surprising that such an important document got named after the dude who presented it, instead of the one who wrote it (that'd be Elihu Root), right?

The answer might be because Senator Platt was so strongly in favor of U.S. imperialism. And we mean strongly: the guy probably spent his spare time sticking American flag pins in maps of the world, sitting back, and saying, "Aah. Now that's better."

We do know that he was gung-ho for gaining territory for America, as he was 100% behind the annexation of Hawaii and the occupation of the Philippines. In 1894 Platt said, "I firmly believe that when any territory outside the present territorial limits of the United States becomes necessary for our defense or essential for our commercial development, we ought to lose no time in acquiring it" (source).

So, it should come as no big shocker that Platt had his eye on Cuba as well, as the island would certainly fall into his "defense" or "commercial development" categories.

In fact, Platt may have been miffed that the U.S. didn't end up with full control over Cuba, similar to what happened with Guam and Puerto Rico. (This was because of the Teller Amendment, which was signed before the Spanish-American War started and prohibited the U.S. from annexing Cuba.) The Platt Amendment may have been the closest Senator Platt could get to full control of the island, and thus he threw his full support behind the legislation.

Kind of sounds like "control Cuba or bust," right?

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